"What a wonderful way to promote vocations and to spread the
joy of the Gospel!" said an onlooker when 600 Catholics of all ages gathered at St. Pius X parish in Loudonville Aug. 8 for the third annual Concert for Vocations.
The concert was the inspiration of Rev. Anthony Ligato, diocesan vicar for vocations and pastor of St. Jude parish in Wynantskill. Under his leadership, the Diocese of Albany has a growing number of aspirants and seminarians looking toward priesthood, many of whom have participated in the concerts.
The evening began with a silent holy hour. Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger prayed before the consecrated Eucharist with seminarians Deacon Zach Chichester and Nathaniel Resila. The Bishop offered reflections on the supportive and nurturing role of Mary as a mother who "gets into the details" of people's lives, as she did for Jesus at the wedding feast at Cana.
"Mary notices things," Bishop Scharfenberger said, "and has a way of untying the knots in our lives that can bring us frustration and anxiety."
Invoking the intercession of Mary, particularly for vocations to marriage, holy orders and religious life, many attendees commented on the sense of peace and joy that pervaded the holy hour and concert. Bishop Scharfenberger and several priests, religious, seminarians and laypersons sang and played songs from the baroque and classical
genres, as well as Broadway tunes and contemporary songs with prayerful themes.
A quartet (pictured) - Andrea and Tim Reno, Kel Szydagis and Rev. Daniel Quinn, pastor of St. Paul's parish in Hancock - sang a motet, "Ubi Caritas." Parish life director Sister Kath er ine Arseneau, CSJ, of St. Michael's parish in Troy and Sister Anne Stephen Wysocki, CSJ, led the crowd in singing "God Bless America."
Mary Fay and Rev. Christopher Welch - respectively, diocesan
associate director of marriage formation and family life and pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tribes Hill and St. Cecilia's in Fonda - sang Irving Berlin's "You're Just in Love" as a reflection on marriage.
Participant Rev. Rendell Torres, a cellist and pastor of Our Lady of Hope parish in Whitehall and St. Ann's in Fort Ann, said he'd arrived feeling "like the boy with two loaves and five fishes" that were multiplied to feed a multitude: Having been concerned about preparing for a public performance, he felt a calm descend during the holy hour that pervaded the evening. Father Torres joined seminarian Samuel Bellafiore and Nicholas Ascioti of St. Jude parish to perform "Ave Maria de Caccini."
Pictured, to wrap up the evening, Bishop Scharfenberger sang "Bring Him Home" from the musical "Les Misérables" in
English and French, accompanied by Father Torres on the cello and Rev. Quy Vo of Ss. Anthony and Joseph parish in Herkimer and St. John the Baptist in Newport on piano.
Each year, the number of attendants at the concerts has grown. A reception followed in the parish hall. More photos are available in The Evangelist's print edition. Several songs are posted online at www.facebook.com/DioceseOfAlbany.